PhD, Prince, Paisley Park, Pandemic and Play (and a bit about F. Scott Fitzgerald)



As I am reading the book Critical Thinking  

    for my first PhD Class, struggling to navigate an ebook on my ipad, laptop or phone and seeing if I can pick up where I left off on each device, while moving throughout the day from the couch, my office, the patio.....this quote appears:

 “Success comes to those who are persistent and figure out strategies for themselves.” 

Obvious….BUT.  While multi-tasking Thursday evening I couldn’t find and then couldn’t upload the template for my first writing assignment, which is supposed to be in APA format. There are templates for this – yay!  But I’m in frantic mode, wanting to email my professor, and listening to a poetry reading.  Lesson learned: do one task at a time. I have to FOCUS on my class. Block out the other distractions around the house.

Once I did that, I was able to find the template, upload and save it and take a deep breath to move forward.   My creative writing is different than learning scholarly writing, and it is interesting to experience those differences. This blog is part of my creative outlet after feeling boxed in with learning to use ebooks, new library databases and search engines, and how I am going to organize everything on my computer to find things efficiently. I print out a lot and have always had a paper journal.  So the learning curve begins.  


 My brain doesn’t work in computer files, sorting into boxes. It’s more like a collage or a spider web.I love this visual thesaurus app I've had for years on my phone:


I took a break and read something for pleasure:  This Thing Called Life: Prince’s Odyssey On + Off the Record by my Minneapolis friend Neal Karlan.  This is authentic writing.  Neal's first three chapters pulled me in out of his consciousness to tell the nonfiction (not creative nonfiction, he specifically states) story of the man he knew as a “person” and friend.  


Tidbit: Paisley Park was  a place of isolation, “a place in your heart where you can go to be alone.”  Hmmmm…. I wonder what Prince would have thought of the current pandemic. Four short years after his death in 2016 and our administration is in shambles and COVID is raging. Paisley Park is, or was, whatever is left of it at this point, in the middle of god-forsaken nowhere farmland. I never ventured out to Chanhassen except as a kid with my parents a couple of times to the Chanhassen dinner theater, where one could watch singers or theater events with a meal.


which leads to the next spiderweb link....

Neal references a note-worthy article about F. Scott Fitzgerald in the book (p. 17), the St. Paul, Minnesota hometown boy, about his 1940 account of mid-life crisis or writer fame overload unraveling in the excellent article The Crack Up I'm proud to say I was born in the same Miller Hospital in St. Paul as Fitzgerald's daughter Scottie, about forty decades later. 


Neal is referencing that time of three o’clock in the morning where Prince is working.   I think about a writer's Life of Letters, the solitude needed to work.  In the article, Fitzgerald questions his role as a writer, his Midwestern upbringing and hints of racism, the reality of books being overshadowed by movies (yes, it was going on back then, too), and his escape into solitude….


One harassed and despairing night I packed a briefcase and went off a thousand miles to think it over. I took a dollar room in a drab little town where I knew no one and sunk all the money I had with me in a stock of potted meat, crackers, and apples. But don't let me suggest that the change from a rather overstuffed world to a comparative asceticism was any Research Magnificent—I only wanted absolute quiet to think out why I had developed a sad attitude towards sadness, a melancholy attitude toward melancholy, and a tragic attitude toward tragedy—


Fitzgerald is working on an escape to find the "I."  What is my escape? Is it the scholarly escape, the pandemic escape?


Who am I as a writer?

What will I find out with this PhD class?

Do I need scholarly writing and a future dissertation looming in on my life? 


Search the database for play.....




This is my playtime…..



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